Celeste’s husband was murdered – shot in the head – for being tall.
This was back in 1999. At the time, there were lots of ambushes on the roads. In fact, that was the way I expected to die in those crazy early years of my time out here. During the ambush, he and six others from his tribe (crassly identified as the ‘talls’), were taken by the rebels to the side of the road and killed. He’d been part of our team of volunteers. It was a tragedy. But he knew, loved and was ready to meet his Maker. He left behind Celeste and four young children.
In my book ‘More Than Conquerors’, I wrote about this episode. When my friend Celeste ‘heard that her husband had been murdered in an ambush, she returned to her four children at home. No husband, no money, no job. How could the kids carry on at school? She was all alone. But she said to me, “Simon, you know, God is truly wonderful. I lost everything, and went home into my bedroom and cried out before the Lord. And he was there. He is amazing, and meets all my needs. My husband is now free of all this mess, and I share that same certain hope.” Her face shone as she spoke.’
We took her on to give her a stable job. GLO paid for a house, because one or our values is you’ve got to take care of your own. And of course, widows and orphans are very close to the heart of God.
Fast-forward 17 years. Celeste has faithfully served us all that time. Her boys have grown up into young men, and are still studying. She just wrote to me asking for prayers (not for money), and I want to share the email with you:
“You know inflation is killing us. I can’t make my salary last to the end of the month. I get $200/month and I’ve had to take out debts over the last while which are crippling me. I owe $1,150 at 18%. And for the boys’ school and university, if they are to continue this year, I need regular support of $30/month. Please pray. If only I can get these costs covered, I think I can pull through.”
Folks reading this, such are the situations I come across daily here. I find it crushing, because it’s people I care about. Philippe, who’s worked for me for 18 years, came a few days ago. His wife was stuck at home without a job in years now and was mentally losing the plot. It was naturally destroying family life, so could I help her start up a business to get her out of the house? What if that was me and my wife…? I heard another brother say to a visiting group: “Things are so desperate. We look to Jesus, and then we look to Simon. He’s such a blessing to so many of us.”
I’m not writing that to big myself up. What a horrific thing to hear! Who can bear that responsibility? Jesus can, but I can’t!
So I’ll keep just telling the stories, and sharing the burdens. Maybe someone reading this is a widow and resonates with my precious sister Celeste’s predicament, and can help her break the cycle of debt. Maybe someone’s battling mental health issues and wants to help Philippe and family. Or maybe you just fancy completely transforming a family’s lives by a reckless act of generosity.
If you want to help, do get in touch.
At the very least, you can all pray, can’t you? And these stories always make me count my blessings and live with deep gratitude for what I have…